Misha Green’s “Lovecraft Country” was one of the highest-rated television shows in 2020.
The show starred in a dazzling array of cast and producers but lasted for just one season. Nevertheless, it said volumes to race relations in America.
With a storyline that’s intertwined with systemic racism, horror story frights, with a touch of mid-century science fiction, fans were kept on edge during each episode.
This originality brought the show critical acclaim, and it has been nominated for 18 Emmy Awards including Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama Series for actor Jurnee Smollett.
With the spotlight now shining on Smollett. Here’s all you need to know about the iconic American movie star.
Early Acting Career
Smollett started acting from a very young age. She began her career by appearing on “Martin and Out All Night” in 1992.
Her breakout role came at age four when she played Michelle Tanner’s friend, Denise Frazer, in “Full House.” She later revealed in an interview how that moment made her feel.
“I remember the feeling of performing in front of a live audience and being able to feed off of them.”
“There [was] that action-reaction cycle that happens when you are in front of a live audience, and ‘Oh, if I do this, this makes them laugh.’ It was such great training for me because it really gave me confidence and freedom,” she told The Hollywood Reporter.
Many years later, Smollett’s performance as Eve in “Eve’s Bayou” alongside Samuel L. Jackson and Lynn Whitfield pushed her into the limelight.
She received the Critics Choice Award for the movie and was also nominated for an NAACP Image Award. It was at this point she shed her greenhorn status.
As the saying goes, success begets success, and another award came for the New York-born star.
In 2008, Smollett won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture for her performance in the historical movie “The Great Debaters.”
She portrayed Samantha Booke, a female debater at Wiley College, and co-starred with Hollywood legend, Denzel Washington.
For the next decade, Smollett showed her acting prowess in several movies and television series proving that she was not a one-season wonder.
The list includes “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Friday Night Lights,” “The Defenders,” “Underground,” “True Blood Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor,” “Birds of Prey,” and so on.
Her most recent role was as Letitia “Leti” Lewis in the 2020 HBO series “Lovecraft Country” for which she got nominated for an Emmy.
Personal Life & Net Worth
The critically acclaimed actor has been vocal about HIV/AIDS causes since she was 11. Smollett was inspired by AIDS survivor, Hydeia Broadbent, with whom she eventually collaborated on several HIV/AIDS awareness projects.
She is on the Board of Directors for several charity organizations such as New South Africa, an organization dedicated to HIV/AIDS in Africa, and the Children’s Defense Fund organization.
Also, the actress is associated with institutes like Black AIDS and Red Cross and has contributed immensely to their cause.
Her numerous roles in films and television series have earned her a pretty penny. According to Celebrity Net Worth, she is worth $2 million in cash and assets.
However, her love life has not been smooth sailing like her career. The actress’ decade-long marriage to musician Josiah Bell recently hit the rocks.
The couple was last seen together at the 49th NAACP Image Awards in 2018. Since then Smollet has attended several red-carpet events, but Josiah did not tag along.
In March 2020, Smollett filed for divorce from Bell.
Jurnee Smollett found herself in a bit of unwanted publicity a few years back when her brother, former “Empire Star,” Jussie Smollett, was involved in an alleged racially charged attack that became the talk of the entire country. In 2019, Jussie told police in Chicago that he was attacked by two men and had a noose placed around his neck. Jussie was later charged with filing false reports and was at the center of an ongoing lawsuit with Chicago over the bizarre case.
Although things were rough, Jurnee stood by her brother’s side and later spoke about how difficult the situation has been on the family:
“One of the most painful things my family’s ever experienced, to love someone as much as we love my brother, and to watch someone who you love that much go through something like this, that is so public, has been devastating.” Jurnee told THR. She added, “Everyone who knows me knows that I love my brother and I believe my brother.”
What’s Next For Smollett?
Sadly, Smollett would not be reprising her role as Leti in “Lovecraft Country.”
After the series wrapped up in 2020, fans were desperate for another season and were eagerly waiting for an update about the show’s renewal. Sadly, HBO decided to cancel the series in July 2021 after nearly a year of silence.
According to the producers, the high praise and ratings the show received weren’t enough to ensure its continuity. They hinted at a lack of source materials to create scripts for additional seasons.
For Smollett, there would be no break in stride as she is set to star in “Escape From Spiderhead” a Netflix film co-starring Chris Hemsworth and Miles Teller.